April 24, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET):
Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
7 (748 nanometers)
This image is approximately 60 km (37 miles) across
One of MDIS's new campaigns during the extended mission is to obtain images of Mercury's north polar region. During MESSENGER's primary mission, Mercury's south polar region was repeatedly imaged
and areas of permanent shadow were identified
. During MESSENGER's extended mission, MDIS will make a dedicated effort to repeatedly image the surface near Mercury's north pole. MESSENGER's highly eccentric orbit, which passes close to Mercury's surface at high northern latitudes, provides an opportunity for particularly high-resolution images of Mercury's north polar region. This image helps to fill the small gap
in coverage near the north pole that remained after the prime mission.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation
are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury?
section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER's science goals.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.